Ἑσπέριος κεῖνός γε τελεῖ τά κεν ἦρι νοήσῃ·
ἑσπέριος τὰ μέγιστα, τὰ μείονα δ’, εὖτε νοήσῃ.
οἱ δὲ τὰ μὲν πλειῶνι, τὰ δ’ οὐχ ἑνί, τῶν δ’ ἀπὸ πάμπαν
αὐτὸς ἄνην ἐκόλουσας, ἐνέκλασσας δὲ μενοινήν.
(Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus 87-90)

At evening he accomplishes what he thinks of in the morning; at evening the greatest things, the lesser, immediately he thinks of them. Others accomplish some things in a year, other things not in one; of others you yourself cut short their accomplishment and thwart their desire. (tr. Susan A. Stephens)



Fuit praeterea idem ingeniosissimus, cuius ostendendi acuminis scilicet pauca libet ponere: nam cum taurum ingentem in arenam misisset, exissetque ad eum feriendum venator neque productum decies potuisset occidere, coronam venatori misit, mussantibusque cunctis, quid rei esset quod homo ineptissimus coronaretur, ille per curionem dici iussit: ‘taurum totiens non ferire difficile est’. idem, cum quidam gemmas vitreas pro veris vendidisset eius uxori, atque illa re prodita vindicari vellet, subripi quasi ad leonem venditorem iussit, deinde e cavea caponem emitti, mirantibusque cunctis rem tam ridiculam per curionem dici iussit: ‘imposturam fecit et passus est’. deinde negotiatorem dimisit.
(Historia Augusta, Gall. 12.5)

Gallienus, furthermore, was exceedingly clever, and I wish to relate a few actions of his in order to show his wit. Once, when a huge bull was led into the arena, and a huntsman came forth to fight him but was unable to slay the bull though it was brought out ten times, he sent the huntsman a garland, and when all the crowd wondered what it might mean that so foolish a fellow should be crowned with a garland, he bade a herald announce: “It is a difficult thing to miss a bull so many times.” On another occasion, when a certain man sold his wife glass jewels instead of real, and she, discovering the fraud, wished the man to be punished, he ordered the seller to be haled off, as though to a lion, and then had them let out from the cage a capon, and when all were amazed at so absurd a proceeding, he bade the herald proclaim: “He practised deceit and then had it practised on him.” Then he let the dealer go home. (tr. David Magie)



Nos adhuc iter per Graeciam summa cum admiratione fecimus, nec mehercule habeo, quod adhuc quem accusem meorum. videntur mihi nosse nostram causam et condicionem profectionis suae; plane serviunt existimationi meae. quod superest, si verum illud est, ‘οἵαπερ ἡ δέσποινα…’, certe permanebunt; nihil enim a me fieri ita videbunt, ut sibi sit delinquendi locus. sin id parum profuerit, fiet aliquid a nobis severius.
(Cicero, Ep. ad Att. 104(=5.11).5)

So far my journey through Greece has been the admiration of the country, and I must say that I have no complaint to make so far of any of my party. I think they know my position and the understanding on which they come. They are really jealous for my good name. As for the future, if there is anything in the old saying ‘like master…’, they will certainly keep it up, for they will see nothing in my behaviour to give them any pretext for delinquency. Should that not answer however, I am prepared for sterner measures. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)



Arrigis ad vetulas, fastidis, Basse, puellas,
nec formosa tibi sed moritura placet.
hic, rogo, non furor est, non haec est mentula demens?
cum possis Hecaben, non potes Andromachen.
(Martial 3.76)

You rise at old women, Bassus, you despise girls; not beauty but approaching death attracts you. I ask, is this not madness, is this not a crazy cock? You can do Hecuba, but you can’t do Andromache. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)



Σοὶ δὲ δὴ μέλλει τίς ὦ βασιλεῦ ἀντιώσεσθαι πόλεμον προφέρων, ἄγοντι καὶ πλῆθος τὸ ἐκ τῆς Ἀσίης καὶ νέας τὰς ἁπάσας; ὡς μὲν ἐγὼ δοκέω, οὐκ ἐς τοῦτο θράσεος ἀνήκει τὰ Ἑλλήνων πρήγματα· εἰ δὲ ἄρα ἔγωγε ψευσθείην γνώμῃ καὶ ἐκεῖνοι ἐπαερθέντες ἀβουλίῃ ἔλθοιεν ἡμῖν ἐς μάχην, μάθοιεν ἂν ὡς εἰμὲν ἀνθρώπων ἄριστοι τὰ πολέμια. ἔστω δ’ ὦν μηδὲν ἀπείρητον· αὐτόματον γὰρ οὐδέν, ἀλλ’ ἀπὸ πείρης πάντα ἀνθρώποισι φιλέει γίνεσθαι.
(Herodotus, Hist. 7.9γ)

So, my lord, who is going to oppose you? Who is going to threaten you with war when you come from Asia at the head of a massive army and with your whole fleet? I am sure that the Greeks are not so foolhardy. But suppose I’m mistaken in this opinion; suppose their rash foolishness encourages them to confront us in battle. Then they will discover that when it comes to military matters there is no one in the world to match us. Anyway, we should leave nothing untried. Nothing comes of its own accord; people invariably get things as a result of their own efforts. (tr. Robin Waterfield)



TOX. Si hanc emeris –
di immortales! – nullus leno te alter erit opulentior.
evortes tuo arbitratu homines fundis, familiis;
cum optumis viris rem habebis, gratiam cupient tuam:
uenient ad te comissatum.
DOR. at ego intro mitti votuero.
TOX. at enim illi noctu occentabunt ostium, exurent fores:
proin tu tibi lubeas concludi aedis foribus ferreis,
ferreas aedis commutes, limina indas ferrea,
ferream seram atque anellum; ne sis ferro parseris:
ferreas tute tibi impingi iubeas crassas compedis.
DOR. i in malum cruciatum.
TOX. i sane tu… hanc eme; ausculta mihi.
(Plautus, Persa 564-574)

TOX. If you buy her – immortal gods! – no pimp will be better off than you. You’ll turn men out of their estates and households as you please; you’ll have dealings with men of the highest rank, they’ll be keen on your favor and come to you for their drinks parties.
DOR. Well, I won’t let them in.
TOX. Well, they’ll serenade your door at night and burn down its panels. So you should have your house closed with an iron door, you should change your house to an iron one, put in an iron lintel and threshold and an iron bar and door ring. Please don’t be economical with iron: you should have heavy iron shackles put on yourself.
DOR. Go and be hanged.
TOX. No, you go… and buy her; listen to me.
(tr. Wolfgang De Melo)


Ὅτι δ’ ἐστὶν ἡ ἠθικὴ* κατὰ προαίρεσιν, δῆλον, ἐπεὶ κἂν εἰ μεγάλα παθὼν μὴ ἀποδῴη δι’ ἀδυναμίαν, ἀλλ’ ὡς ἠδύνατο, καλῶς· καὶ ὁ θεὸς ἀνέχεται κατὰ δύναμιν λαμβάνων τὰς θυσίας. ἀλλὰ τῷ πωλοῦντι οὐχ ἱκανῶς ἕξει, ἂν μὴ φήσῃ δύνασθαι πλέον δοῦναι, οὐδὲ τῷ δανείσαντι.

* sc. φιλία

(Aristotle, Eud. Eth. 1243b)

But it is clear that moral friendship is a matter of intention, since even if a man after having received great benefits owing to inability did non repay them, but only repaid as much as he was able, he acts honorably; for even God is content with getting sacrifices in accordance with our ability. But a seller will not be satisfied if a man says he cannot pay more, nor will one who has made a loan. (tr. Harris Rackham)